A surprising new approach to an old problem
The quality of any town is made up of a million or more things, from big ones like cost of living or strength of the employment market, to the smaller ones like mass transit or walk-ability. One of those quality indicators is a town’s aesthetics. That can come in the form of green spaces, well-designed and managed properties, and, in the case of Castle Rock, Colorado, some public art with a surprising purpose.
Since 2014 the town has been benefiting from a program called Art Around the Rock, created by Officer Seth Morrissey, a member of Castle Rock’s special operations unit. The community art project puts into practice Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). Local artists, including another police officer, Renee Tremaine, were assigned areas with a high likelihood of graffiti and asked to paint a variety of murals. Twelve bridges and tunnels in the city were chosen.
The art isn’t just intended to look pretty—it’s a part of the CPTED principle of beautifying areas to discourage abuse. CPTED is a method that police departments, urban developers, and city planners use to discourage criminal behaviors through the design of public spaces and environments. Some CPTED methods can be functional, like installing thorny shrubs in front of windows that might likely be broken into.
Others are less concrete, like Castle Rock’s plan, which works on the idea that would-be graffiti artists are less likely to paint over another artist’s work. Instead of repeatedly paying to have graffiti removed, Morrissey’s project allows artists to beat vandals to the punch, decorating the spaces with community-related murals like the group of crows emerging from an image of Castle Rock’s namesake, or local artist Janene DiRico-Cable’s nature scene that drew inspiration from indigenous wildlife.